Sunday, April 25, 2010

Slide Show Sunday: Spring

Spring at our house means...

nasty, yellow pollen clings to every surface

the flower boxes return to life
the first seeds sprout in the vegetable garden 

the Sweet Broom is in full bloom and fragrant

new leaves emerge

playing in the garden

 riding a skateboard
and lots 
and lots 

of bike riding.
Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Project Stairway Step 2: From Better to ....

NOT pink. Nope, painting the stairs pink got the big veto from BSD.

I wanted to wait until the whole stairway project was finished before posting, but I realize that is going to take A. LONG. TIME. Because it involves choosing a paint color. For some reason, this is painstaking for me. I become Charlize Theron in The Devil's Advocate. Do you remember that movie? The one with Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino is his dad. And, er, the devil. Charlize is Keanu's poor backwoods wife who becomes haunted by everything and is going crazy. And, she keeps repainting their apartment.

That's me. I take forever to choose a paint color. Then half the time, I don't like it and want to repaint it. 

Enter Exhibit A.

I've painted this wall a few colors. I think I've narrowed it down to one of these two. I need to make a decision already before BSD divorces me. This wall has been this way for over a month now. It's hard because even though our house has a whole wall of windows, it can be quite dark in here. Pretty shades in the sunlight look dirty at night and can cast ugly shadows as you can see in this photo. Anybody want to save my marriage and weigh in with a preference?

OK,without further ado... BLECH!



Now all I need to do is paint the walls, pick out a fun light fixture for the stair landing, and add the rest of the framed pictures to the landing area. Oh, and redo the rest of the house to match the new "Hip Beach" theme. No problem.

I will post the details about the runner in a separate post because I know I looked everywhere online for information on how to install a Dash and Albert rug on a staircase and found nothing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Celebrating Earth Day with a Green Smoothie

Happy Earth Day! In honor of this special day, I decided to "Go Green" in an area that I am most definitely brown. My daily beverage. 

Sadly, this is my beverage of choice each day.

It's actually kind of pretty, isn't it? Those cherry-red letters bring a smile to my face. And the gallon of Diet Coke inside puts the pep in my step. Unfortunately, the aspartame will probably soak my cells with cancer while it's at it.

So for Earth Day today, I traded in my beloved Big Gulp for a Green Smoothie.

Isn't she gorgeous?!?!? I want to decorate my house with accents this color. What  a bright, springy shade of green! Not only is this smoothie pretty to look at it actually tastes good. And it's full of cancer-busting nutrients! It's health in a glass. What more could you ask for? Maybe a splash of vodka? You don't even need it.This glass of green goodness gave me such a high. After drinking it, I had the energy boost of five Red Bulls. My arms tingled. And my vision is razor sharp. Major buzz! Awesome.

I'm going to play around with different ingredients to see which combinations taste best. But this one is a definite winner. Anyone care to join me? 

Green Smoothie
1 1/2 cups orange-pineapple juice (It's what was in the fridge, but OJ would work too)

1 banana, cut into chunks (a frozen banana would probably be even better)

4 oz. yogurt (I used TJ's French vanilla b/c it's what we had, but plain or flavored is fine.)

2 BIG handfuls of fresh spinach

Pour juice into blender. Add banana chunks, yogurt and spinach. Blend on high until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why Are You So Dressed Up Today?

Way back (ok, eight months ago) when I started this blog I talked about how I have dresses in my closet with the tags still on. Dresses that I LOVE, but don't wear. Mainly because I'm tired of the comment, "Why are you so dressed up today?" And that question makes me uncomfortable.

As a stay-at-home mom, it's easy to get in a rut of jeans and a t-shirt. It's comfortable. It's easily cleaned. You fit in with the crowd. Where it's safe. There's no worry that people will talk about you.

That you look like a hoochie.

 That you don't know how to put together an outfit.

Or worse, you're too matchy-matchy.

But it gets old, and boring, to always wear the same "uniform" day in and day out. 

My friend and I talk about this often during our morning workouts. We think other women look great when they wear bold necklaces. Or add a scarf to a basic outfit. Or wear cute shoes. But we feel self-conscious when we do it. We hate hearing, "Why are you so dressed up today?" Are these other women who wear accessories or dresses hearing the same questions? I'm so curious.

How about you? Do you wear dresses casually? Statement necklaces? Scarves? Funky shoes? Or are you a "uniform" girl too?

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Many Carrots are in a 5 lb. Bag?

You do the math...
Five pounds of carrots. 
For a family of four
Three recipes down. 
Two weeks later. 
One boatload of carrots leftover. 

There are still 32 carrots left in the bag! What the heck do I do with all of them? We've already made...
  1. 16 pints of my dad's homemade spaghetti sauce.
  2. one 8" doggie carrot cake for the dog's birthday party.
  3. one kick-ass two-layer human carrot cake for the humans at the dog's party.

Plus, we've peeled and eaten about a dozen of them straight from the bag.

So...what's the total? Do you care? Or are you smarter than a former-5th-grade-teacher and know better than to buy a bag of carrots at BJ's?

HELP! What can I do with the rest of these carrots before they wind up on the neighbor's compost heap?!?!?

What Am I Going to Be When I Grow Up?
8. Home-Economics Teacher  
Kick-Ass Carrot Cake

(adapted from a Barefoot Contessa recipe)


For the cake:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 pound carrots, grated
  • 8 oz can crushed pineapple, in juice

For the frosting:

  • 3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. confectioners' sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

For the cake:

Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. 

In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins with 1 tablespoon flour. 

Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 35 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

For the frosting:

Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Three things about the bitch on your third birthday
1. You live to play with your friends...
and Oscar.
2.  You run away from home weekly. Unfortunately, the neighbors keep bringing you back.
3.  Your howl is over-the-top. It sounds like you're dying in pain. By now, though, everyone's got your number, and we know you're just crying wolf.

Happy Third Birthday, Ruby! 

 Were you really surprised? 

 Or were you just acting knowing that cake was in your future?

It was nice to be at a 3 year old party where there was no crying or whining.

And where everyone shared nicely.

Heck, there were even presents. You lucky dawg!

For all of the dog lovers out there. Don't go calling PETA on us. The cake was meant for dogs. There was no chocolate or sugar in it. The little "chocolate chip" decorations were liver treats.

Peanut Butter Carrot Cake

Naturally sweet, colorful and flavorful, this cake is simple and easy to make.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg
Mix flour and baking soda. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into greased 8" round cake pan and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until done. Let cool. Puree cottage cheese in blender for icing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Big Fat Sigh...


Taxes are done. 

And filed.

Refund should be on its way soon.


So glad that monkey is off my back.

I never wait this long.

April snuck up on me this year.

I can blog again soon.

First I have to brush my teeth.

I think I ate a whole 3 lb bag of M&M's tonight while doing them.

My teeth actually hurt.

Really, truly, ache.

Maybe we'll have a bigger medical deduction in 2010.

After filling the 10 cavities I'm sure I gave myself tonight.

BSD, you can stop bugging me now.

I promise to do Slide Show Sunday.

Next Sunday. 

What Am I Going to Be When I Grow Up? 
7. Accountant

Friday, April 9, 2010

Eff You, Cancer!

I grew up eating fairly well. My father made meals that could have been served in any four star restaurant. No crockpot dinners at our house. Cream of Mushroom soup was never an ingredient. Vegetables were always fresh, never canned. We ate bushels of fresh broccoli, asparagus, and green beans. Brussell sprouts were common. Corn on the cob, not so much. We never ordered pizza for dinner.

So how is it that I never ate this before? And I probably couldn't have told you what this was just a few weeks ago?

Is it a regional thing? Are 'greens' uncommon in the Northeast? We ate our share of spinach, but this was never on the menu. It's a shame. Because it's so pretty. And it actually tastes good too.
In case you're as clueless as I was, this is rainbow Swiss chard.  I cooked it for the first time a few weeks ago. 

Since both of my parents have been attacked by cancer, I figure odds are high that this damn disease is waiting around the corner for me too so I checked out Super Natural Cooking to add some new cancer-busting recipes to my repertoire.

I had read that "if vegetables got grades for traditional nutrients alone, Swiss chard would be one of the vegetable valedictorians." So the first recipe I tried was called GIANT CRUSTY AND CREAMY WHITE BEANS AND GREENS. 

Unfortunately, I could not find the giant Corona beans the recipe called for so instead I substituted white cannellini beans. While it tasted good, these beans didn't hold up well to the pan frying. Instead of the distinct beans you see pictured in the author's photo here...

Mine turned out with more of a hash brown consistency. Definitely not as pretty nor as texturally-appealing on the tongue. 

But it had great flavor, and it was chock full of disease-busting nutrients so I will continue to make this dish. I even bought a packet of Swiss chard seeds to plant in our garden this year. Take that freakin' cancer! I'm not going down without a fight!

Note: If anyone knows where to buy dried Corona beans, I'd love to get my hands on some. I'd rather not have to order them over the interwebs if I can help it.

Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans with Greens
- serves 6 to 8 as a side dish -
Heidi says: "I get more requests for this recipe than any other. The crisp golden crust on the beans encases a rich and creamy center, creating an irresistibly delicious combination. The greens provide a nutritionally packed accent as well as beautiful color. Plan ahead, as you need to soak the beans overnight. You can even cook them a day or two in advance; drain and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. I’ve tried this recipe with canned beans of different varieties, but I always ended up with a mushy pot of bean mash—tasty, but not what we’re after. The freshly cooked dried beans maintain their structure much better during sautéing. Giant corona beans, cellini beans, or white cannellini are the best choice here."
1/2 pound medium or large dried white beans, cooked (see page 204)
3 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil
Fine-grain sea salt
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 or 7 big leaves chard, preferably rainbow chard, leaves cut into wide ribbons and 1 or 2 stems cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
1. Drain the beans, then heat the butter over medium-high heat in the widest skillet you’ve got. Add beans to the hot pan in a single layer. If you don’t have a big-enough skillet, just do the sauté step in two batches or save the extra beans for another use. Stir to coat the beans with butter, then let them sit long enough to brown on one side, about 3 or 4 minutes, before turning to brown the other side, also about 3 or 4 minutes. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.
2. Salt to taste, add the onion and garlic, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the onion softens. Stir in the chard, and cook until just beginning to wilt. Remove from heat, and season to taste with a generous dose of salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit of top-quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan.
Note: For a twist on bruschetta, serve the beans over grilled slices of rustic bread rubbed with a clove of garlic and a fragrant extra-virgin olive oil. For a cold-weather option, omit the onions and garlic and instead stir in deeply caramelized onions when you add the chard.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Flower Power

This weekend was the ballerinas' performance of The 12 Dancing Princesses. It's a crazy week of running back and forth to rehearsals, spacings, and then the shows themselves. Plus, the Little Ballerina was also in the show. A first (and maybe a last) for her. 

Preparations for the shows always stress me out. Washing leotards. Checking tights for runs or stains. Applying makeup to moving targets. Sculpting hair into sleek works of art. Add in Easter baskets, coloring eggs, and egg hunts, and I was definitely pushed to the brink.

The worst is getting ready for the one performance we actually attend. Because now I not only have to get the ballerinas ready, but myself as well. BSD knows how crazed I become and he tries desperately to help. 

"What can I do for you?" he asks sympathetically.

"Flowers! We need to get flowers to give to the ballerinas after the performance!" I screech at him.

"Great! I'll go get some," he replies, grateful for a reason to leave the house.

I continue my mass destruction of the ozone layer, shellacking the Little Ballerina's matchstick hair strands against her head with a jumbo can of Aqua Net. Praying it will create the appearance of a proper ballet bun.

BSD returns with the flowers, sees the crazed look on my face, and decides to make himself useful setting up the cool, new canisters I bought for the kitchen counter tops. Smart boy.

"BSD! The Big Ballerina is ready. Take her to the theater. I'll follow with the Little Ballerina in a few minutes," I yell at him as I glue LB's eye closed with her false eyelash for the fourth time.

Finally, I hustle LB into the car and run back into the kitchen to grab her a drink. 

And then I glance over at the canisters.

"OH, DEAR LORD! I'M MARRIED TO A MORON!" I scream to the heavens. I am officially pushed over the edge. 

Thinking about this on the drive to the theater, it hits me. The flowers! Did either of us remember to bring the flowers?!?!!?


And that is how we wound up here, until seconds before curtain.

And how the flours wound up here, until hours after the curtain.

 Big Ballerina as a 'Golden Flour'

Little Ballerina as a 'Buzzing Bee' (far left with the follicely-challenged bun)